Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Victoria council votes to eliminate tax-free pay perk

Big kudos to the Victoria City Council for voting to eliminate their archaic one-third tax free status on their council salary.

It's an unfortunate remanence from the days when politicians had to pay out of pocket to travel by motor-coach, train or zeppelin to get to Ottawa or their provincial capital a couple times a year to vote.

Now that most politicians have not only salaries, but a handful of other allowances (travel allowances, education allowances, office budgets, clothing allowances, health care spending accounts, RRSP contributions, pensions, and transition allowances) it's clearly time to eliminate the special tax-free status that only a select handful of Canadians enjoy.

Read the story here.

As mentioned in the story:

MLAs in B.C. lost the privilege in 1996, and Ontario, Manitoba and Nova
Scotia have also opted for a more transparent system.

Tax-free status has also been eliminated for civic politicians in Vancouver,
Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton.

Not mentioned in the story, but the Province of Saskatchewan also recently joined that category of full taxpayers, as did the City of Calgary. Thanks to a bit of CTF prodding in both Saskatchewan and Calgary.

Unfortunately, the City of Edmonton, passed on the opportunity to become more transparent, instead opting to raise council salaries by 13%, their "car allowance" by 30% and their "RRSP allowance" by 87% (the later two are also 1/3 tax-free if you can believe it). Not to mention a generous hike to their "transition allowance".

(note: the quotations around "car allowance" and "RRSP allowance" are due to the fact that neither is a real allowance. Both are paid out as cash on their regular paycheques and don't have to be used for either stated purpose -- meaning you don't have to even own a car to get your "car allowance" in Edmonton).

If you live in Edmonton, sign our petition.

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